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MO HealthNet Replaces Medicaid in Missouri

The new MO HealthNet takes effect today. As KSMU's Missy Shelton reports, it's receiving both praise and criticism.

Starting today, the new Missouri Healthnet replaces the Medicaid program in Missouri.

Governor Matt Blunt and most of the Republican-led legislature praise the new program as a way to make recipients of state-funded healthcare more accountable for their personal health.

The legislation establishing MO Healthnet includes a dental program but it has not been funded.

That's causing problems for Dorothy Davenport, a MO Healthnet recipient who needs dental care following some heart problems.

Dorothy Davenport was one of three individuals who shared their stories and raised concerns about MO Healthnet today at the Southwest Center for Independent Living in Springfield.

Ana Compain-Romero is the spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Social Services.

She says the goal is to provide dental care through MO Healthnet but it's up to lawmakers to provide funding for that part of the program.

In addition to the lack of funding for dental care, critics of MO Healthnet say it falls far short of providing coverage to those who need health insurance.

Gary Maddox is executive director of the Southwest Center for Independent Living.

Figures from the state show that about 822 thousand people will receive care through MO Healthnet.

Compare that figure to 2005 when more than one million people received Medicaid coverage. Many Republican lawmakers say the program was too big and inefficient and that's why they cut about 100 thousand people from the program at that time.

Social Services Department spokesperson Ana Compain-Romero says the state is moving forward with an improved program.

A couple of the speakers at the press conference in Springfield today said they're waiting for the state to write rules for the administration of MO Healthnet. They say until that happens, they're not sure what changes will take place and how they'll effect program participants.